TERRY’S PICKY PALATE / A veggie burger – and brunch at The Cafe on Southard Street

BY TERRY SCHMIDA

KONK LIFE STAFF WRITER

The only thing better than a chance to sample the delectable, yet healthy, lunch/dinner fare at The Cafe, 509 Southard St., is an additional visit to check out the much beloved “mostly vegetarian” eatery’s wonderful brunch offerings.

I had those two opportunities recently and I have to say, I can’t recommend this restaurant highly enough.

The Cafe was opened 15 years ago by Jamille Cucci and has since become one of Key West’s favorite eating spots for its satisfying offering of salads, veggie sandwiches, and juice blends; as well as seafood delights such as pan-roasted salmon, and Prince Edward Island mussels.

As a creature of habit I almost always order the very first meal I ate there – A Spicy Szechuan stir fry with sauteed shrimp and soba noodles – Why try to improve perfection? Cucci had other ideas however and insisted that I sample the “Famous” Veggie Burger, which she concocted with her mom, Ronney, a fellow restaurateur. This over-sized patty is stuffed with legumes, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, scallions, and sunflower seeds, and served up with lettuce, tomato, and sprouts, on thick-cut bread.

In pre-Cafe times when I ate a vegetarian meal I’d give myself a mental pat on the back for eating “healthy,” as I forced myself to ingest not particularly appetizing fare. But times have changed, and thanks to inventive chefs such as Cucci, I now head to The Cafe to enjoy the many flavors she’s brought together; in the case of the Veggie Burger, all in one bun. The burger is fantastic, and must be tasted to be believed. The good-sized portion of The Cafe’s sweet potato fries completing my meal were also out of this world. And yes, they have Sriracha Sauce for dipping. No pat on the back needed.

I quenched my thirst with a freshly blended Watermelon, Cucumber, and Lime Juice, a remarkably refreshing concoction.

Cucci has always served breakfast at The Cafe, but of late has been amping up her morning menu and she wanted me to see it for myself. So on a return trip to The Cafe I ordered a Nova Benedict, one of the many Bennies on offer.

This was another taste explosion, with smoked salmon perfectly complemented by capers, red onions, wilted spinach, silky Hollandaise Sauce, and perfectly cooked home fries. Again I opted for juice, though many diners around me seemed over the moon with the Bottomless Mimosas offered, along with a variety of juice mixers.

For the tastiest guilt-free meals in town, look no further than The Cafe. It’s well worth a visit for a healthy breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner. You’ll want to go back. I was glad I did!

The Cafe is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday, with breakfast served until noon; and for weekend brunch from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Credit cards are accepted. Pick-up and delivery available.

For more information, call 305-296-5515, or visit http://www.thecafekw.com/

keysscribe@aol.com

CUTLINE1
Brielle Fesenfeld is happy to serve diners a Famous Veggie Burger, with sweet potato fries and fresh juice, at The Cafe.
CUTLINE2
Brunch at The Cafe is a special weekend treat. Here, server Stefan Garvanov dishes out a Nova Benedict, and special Veggie Benedict.